Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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China’s Xi Jinping Follows Mao Zedung in Media Attention

Xi Jinping

China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (unseen) at Miraflores Palace in Caracas July 20, 2014. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been mentioned over 4, 000 times in the Communist Party's official paper after 18 months since he assumed office, higher than any former Chinese leader since founding father Mao Zedong.

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong's China Media Project discovered that Xi has the highest number of mentions in People's Daily, the flagship paper of Communist Party of China with 4,725 mentions since 1970.

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This was far from 2,001 and 2,405 times his predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao received during their first 18 months after they took office, according to the research released this month.

Xi followed Mao, the principal founder of the CPC and Chinese People's Liberation Army, who was cited nearly 7,000 times during his 18 months in office after the 9th party congress in 1969.

The current Chinese leader has also been in the headlines of People's Daily for 745 times, more than half from Premier Li Keqiang's 365 headline stories.

He also topped other leaders in front-page mentions, or stories about him published in the front-page with 1, 311 times, compared to Jiang's 1,003 and Hu's 987 story mentions. This was close to Mao's record with 1,411 mentions for front-page stories.

The study, lead by professor Qian Gang, said the results showed that People's Daily is publishing stories "on behalf of the leadership" of the CPC, in an apparent proof of Xi's political influence despite his short tenure as leader of the world's second biggest economy.

Likewise, E.J. Thomas, editor of U.S.-China Report, said that Xi could be tagged as the most powerful leader in China since the days of Mao. He said that while Xi' and Mao's terms were hounded by corruptions and other issues, both leaders made sweeping reforms that help China's economy.

Xi's current challenges include China's territorial dispute with Asian neighbors, specifically with Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Malasyia over the South China Sea and with Japan's Senkaku Islands. 

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